Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) said it is opening its Project Fi MVNO program to all comers, and will ditch the invitation-only policy it had employed since the offering launched 10 months ago.
Project Fi accesses the LTE networks of both Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), enabling users to switch between the two carriers dynamically depending on coverage. The MVNO also supports unlimited text and calling from more than 1 million free and open Wi-Fi hotspots, and users can access cell networks in more than 120 countries.
Google offers a "Fi Basics" plan for $20 a month; additional data is available for $10 per GB. It is available on the Nexus 6P and 5X phones.
"We launched Project Fi as an invitation-only Early Access program to make sure we could deliver the best quality of service to our first customers," Google Product Manager Simon Arscott wrote on the company's blog. "Today, we're excited to be exiting our invitation-only mode and opening up Project Fi so that people across the U.S. can now sign up for service without having to wait in-line for an invite…. While Project Fi is still in its early stages, we're excited to welcome our next wave of customers and look forward to growing and improving together."
The company also launched a month-long promotion for the Nexus 5X, lowering the price to $199 to encourage new users to sign on. Project Fi works only with Nexus phones.
Google added that Project Fi users consume an average of 1.6 GB of data per month. In December the company launched support for data-only devices through the program, enabling customers to buy a data-only SIM card and pay a flat rate of $10 per GB.
Google's Android is the dominant mobile operating system worldwide, of course, but Project Fi continues to play a very minor role in the world of service providers. Its presence may grow quickly, though, if Google opts to pursue the initiative more aggressively. That isn't likely to happen anytime soon -- Google is surely wary of drawing the wrath of its MVNO carrier partners -- but making Project Fi available to all users may be an indication the company is getting a little more serious about becoming a service provider.
- see this Google blog post
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